Posts Tagged ‘ink’

sailor lecoule

This is a step-by-step unboxing and inking of a Sailor Lecoule.

Since an image is worth a thousand words, I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking.

The packaging: first comes a cardboard outer sleeve…

…and an acrylic inner box. Inside it are the pen and two short cartridges. The converter is an option. 

The parts of a Lecoule: cap with chrome trim, barrel with pearlescent white body, converter, and stainless steel MF nib in a transparent section.

I decided to use Pilot Iroshizuku ink in Tsutsuji (azalea), a vibrant hot pink.

Slowly lowering the section and converter into the ink…

…drawing the ink halfway up the converter…

…until the converter is full.

The nib, stained with Tsutsuji, rests on the ink bottle cap.

After inking, the pieces are fitted back together.

A writing sample. The Sailor Lecoule nib only comes in MF -medium-fine – and is a nail with a very slight hint of spring. For those used to nibs that yield a bit, this one will take some getting used to. It would be a good entry pen for those coming from ballpoints. 

The design is all about simplicity and tradition, with an added touch of fun. I love how the transparent material makes it almost a demonstrator!

Pilot Iroshizuku Tsutsuji ink and Sailor Lecoule – an interesting combination. 

I bought this red Sailor Lecoule at Scribe Writing Essentials store in Eastwood City Mall, C-5 Road, Quezon City. (No affiliation, only that it’s the only in-mall fountain pen specialty store in the country.)

All photos taken with an iPhone 4S, edited for sharpness and color with iPhoto.

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ritual ink

For fountain pen users, refilling a pen is not only a requirement for it to remain functional. It is a ritual.

If your pen has a converter, piston-fill, or other fill system that requires dipping the nib into the ink, there are certain steps to follow.

First, if you want the ink color to remain true, clean the converter or flush out the ink chamber. If you don’t mind your inks mixing, or if you are in a hurry, you may skip this step.

Next, make sure the plunger of the converter is all the way down to the bottom of the chamber.

Then dip the nib all the way into the ink. I make sure the entire nib – all the metal parts – are submerged. I try not to let ink get into the section, especially for demonstrator (transparent) pens, because those are nearly impossible to clean.

Twist the plunger upwards, or perform the appropriate filling act for your pen.

Watch the ink enter the chamber and fill it up with with fluid that in your capable and imaginative hands will be transformed, with the partnership of paper, into drawings or musical notes or words of poetry and prose that will touch, move, inform, persuade.

Filling the converter of a Sailor Lecoule with Lamy Blue-Black ink.

Though there are less steps to take, snapping in a new ink cartridge is also satisfying. Although to save the environment and reduce waste, try refilling your empty cartridges with ink using a syringe.

The act of refilling a pen with ink forces you to slow down, to be calm, to clear your mind of other helter-skelter thoughts and for some moments focus on this thing alone.

Distraction might cause you, in haste or clumsiness, to spill the ink or drop the pen parts and damage them. Re-inking makes you re-connect your mind with your body as you perform each step with deliberation, in the now.

 It is meditation, if you will allow it to be.

Photoritual taken with an iPhone 4S, edited with Snapseed and Instagram.

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sailor clear candy


Sailor released its colorful Clear Candy fountain pen line late last year to celebrate the company’s centennial.

It’s marketed as a student’s pen, but its price (about $19.50 at Scribe in Manila), between the Platinum Preppy ($3.30 at JetPens) and the Lamy Safari (about $25 at National Bookstore in Manila), would make it more affordable for working folks rather than students on a budget.

The pen comes in a clear acrylic box, but maybe only at Scribe in Manila, where I bought this.

The  barrel, cap, feed, and section are made of plastic, and the nib of steel, the ubiquitous rolled-under stamped metal sheet that is the modern nail and a feature of budget pens.

The parts of a Clear Candy – barrel, cap with inset star, cartridge, and steel nib in a white section. There was an older version called the AS Manhattaner’s NY Artists’ Guild fountain pen – that one had a cat. AN ADORABLE CAT.

Inking for the first time, using red J. Herbin Anniversary Ink. 

The pen came with a converter, which I find more convenient to use than a cartridge. Be careful when you open the barrel – when I did that to re-ink for the second time, I found that the converter had come unscrewed from the rest of its parts. Good thing there was very little ink left in the chamber and a horrible messy inky accident all over the papers in my office was averted.

The white section stains when the pen is inked. (This is because I use a converter.) Clean it immediately with a tissue dipped in alcohol. That’s inconvenient, but then the pen is pink, and, as we all know, pink covers over a multitude of sins. To avoid this, you could ink by dipping the converter itself into the ink bottle, rather than through the nib. (Or by using a cartridge instead.)

It was too dry a writer with the red J. Herbin Anniversary Ink. I might have the nib modded into a stub – it might write better that way.

The nib is very firm. I cannot coax the least bit of spring from it. At first it was a bit scratchy and dry and did nothing at all for my handwriting. But after some smoothening on rough cardboard, the nib has settled into a toothiness that bites well into most types of paper.

Because the nib is an F-2 fine, there aren’t any bleeding, feathering, nor show-through issues. It’ll do all right on cheap, thin paper, if that’s what you have to work with.

Experiment with different types of ink to find which level of dryness or wetness you prefer, as this pen is choosy about its ink and does better with some than with others.

Here’s a size comparison with a Nokia C-3 phone.

While it might not be to your liking at the start, I suggest you give it a breaking-in period. It’ll do as a school pen for taking notes and as an all-around daily warrior. It comes in many colors – check out the lineup at JetPens.

In Manila, the Sailor Clear Candy pen is available at Scribe, Eastwood Mall.

All photos taken with an iPhone 4S.

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pastel pink esterbrook

Ah, the age of fountain pens. While there are staunch FP users like myself keeping modern pen companies in business, my inner retronaut is drawn to the inescapable allure of the vintage, when materials were different and the nibs were better – or more interesting, at least.

This is a light pink pastel Esterbrook CH model “purse pen” from the mid-1950s. It is a “first generation” with two black jewels.

Pastel pink CH Esterbrook with a bottle of J. Herbin Vert Empire.

It’s a lever fill, with a miniscule capacity that requires frequent re-inking – not that I mind. I love playing with ink.

The plastic used for the pastel Esties was softer and prone to cracking and staining.

This pen came with a steel DuraCrome point 2668 nib, which is a “Firm Medium” for “general writing”. (Here’s a chart of Esterbrook nibs and their descriptions.) I’m not sure if the nib was modded somehow before it came to me, but it writes like an italic stub. It was scratchy so I smoothened it on an old brown kraft paper envelope.

The nib was so sharp it tore holes in the paper. 

Trying to rub out the sharpness by stroking it across rough paper. See the deeply-scored lines made by the nib.

After some effort, it writes much better.

Estie DuraCrome nibs were made without extra metal at the tip, so having less metal to wear away, I succeeded in getting it somewhat smoother, although I wore the point down at an angle instead of straight across. It works for me, anyway.

Writing sample with the smoothened nib. The Vert Empire ink mixed with existing black left unflushed from the nib and sac, so this is not a true rendering of the ink color.

Here’s another writing sample, this time with the same ink appearing in truer color. I love this nib!

There is a dark pink version of the purse Estie that I covet. Perhaps one day the universe will drop it into my lap.

All photos taken with an iPhone 4S, edited with Snapseed.

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sheaffer targa matte black

Knowing that I collect fountain pens, and that my favorites ones are vintage and those that belonged to other people, my stepfather sent me one of his.

It’s a classic matte black Sheaffer Targa, circa ’80s, with the distinctive  inlaid nib design executed in 14 karat gold.

The tassies at both ends are plain black. The weight and heft are just right, and the pen remains well-balanced even when posted. This is the regular-size version, not the slim, and is comfortable to hold and write with for extended periods.

According to this source, this pen could be a “Sheaffer Targa version 4, 1003 Matte Black second edition.”

The small photo above shows the parts: barrel; nib, section, and Skrip cartridge; and cap with clip.

The elegance of its design and the quality of materials used make this a timeless pen, one for all seasons.

But its superpower lies in its nib.

Writing sample of Sheaffer Targa matte black on Kokuyo notebook, J. Herbin Lie de The ink.

On creamy Kokuyo paper, the nib glided here and there like skating on glass. There were no skips, starts, nor hiccups at any point of the writing process. If there is such a thing as a nib that “disappears” into the writing experience, becoming an extension of your hand to convey your innermost thoughts onto paper, this is it – the Sheaffer Targa inlaid nib.

 All photos taken with an iPhone 4S, edited with Snapseed for sharpness and color.

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platinum preppy pink

It’s been raining quite a lot lately, and the skies are often gray and gloomy.

When that happens, I reach for something colorful to brighten my spirits.

Today, it’s this Platinum Preppy fountain pen in perfect peekaboo pink.

 Full shot of the pink Platinum Preppy. Instagram filter: Valencia

As with most things of Japanese design, it is cute. Coming from the prestigious and respected Platinum Pen Company (est. 1919), it is reliable from the moment you snap the cartridge in.

The Preppy is an entry-level for children, students, and anyone who wants an inexpensive but well-made fountain pen. (They’re only US$ 3.30 at Jetpens!)  It comes in several different colors – black, blue, green, purple, red, yellow, and pink among them – with matching colored nibs and ink cartridges.  The nibs come in 03 Fine and 05 Medium. This one’s an 05 Medium.

 Parts of a Platinum Preppy: nib and section, cartridge, barrel, cap and clip. Instagram filter: Hefe.

There being none sold in the Philippines, I got mine at Quill and Nib in West Des Moines, Iowa, during a trip there.

Here’s a writing sample in Platinum’s cheery almost-sakura pink ink. The words and drawing are from an Internet meme.

Writing sample and closeup of a Platinum Preppy nib. 

Someday it will stop raining. Someday it will stop being gray and gloomy. Till then, here’s my pink Platinum Preppy.

All photos taken with an iPhone 4S.

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blue lamy safari italic

Going through my collection of fountain pens, I was pleasantly surprised to rediscover this bold blue Lamy Safari from a couple of years back.

The Lamy cap and barrel is made of high-quality ABS plastic with a chrome clip. It has a cartridge/converter fill system. The barrel has a cutout – that’s to see how much ink is left, which serves the same purpose of the Ink-Vue windows of 1930s Waterman pens, but in a simpler fashion.

I prefer converters to cartridges. They’re eco-friendly because they’re reusable, although carts can be refilled with a syringe. Here, I’ve dipped the Lamy’s nib into a bottle of Private Reserve.

A converter is also great for priming a clean pen because it draws ink up through the nib. Here the converter is half-full. (You can see I’m an optimist.)

Here’s a writing sample with this pen’s lovely 1.1 italic nib. The ink color is actually Tropical Blue, not Turquoise. Sorry for the typo error. The Lamy does not have spell-check.

A closer look at the nib will show the end of the nib that lays the ink down in a wider line than usual, perfect for rendering italics, calligraphy, and interesting drawings. It’s going to get a lot more use from now on.

All photos taken with an iPhone 4S, edited with Snapseed.

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daily art: essay-a-day

Inspired by Summer Pierre’s one-page story writing exercise, I started an essay-a-day daily art project, a diary-slash-creative non-fiction effort.

Summer’s method of using keyword flashcards to choose a topic is interesting but I’m too lazy to make flashcards. I suppose instead of flashcards that I’d have to carry around, I could flip through a book and point to a word.

For now I rely on serendipitous random happenstance of whatever floats to the surface of my mind when faced with a blank sheet of paper, though I do have a theme going on now; all the pieces start with “In [add name of city].”

Here’s my second entry in a pocket plain Moleskine.

Materials: vintage Sheaffer Agio fountain pen inked with Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses, Derwent Coloursoft pencils.

I follow Summer’s rules of writing whatever comes first to mind and no editing. The length of the piece is constrained by the size of the page, although I’ve done a two-page piece.

I posted the picture above on Instagram and Twitter, and tweeted a link to Summer’s article. That got a retweet and a favorite from Summer herself! (Follow her on Twitter @summerpierre).

I asked if she didn’t mind that I adopted her idea.

Her reply? “@jennyortuoste of course not! I am THRILLED you took to it!”

Art is global and knows no boundaries. 

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noodler’s ahab

I have a profound weakness for demonstrator (transparent) pens, so when I visited Quill and Nib at the Valley West Mall, West Des Moines, my eye was drawn to this cheerful sunny Noodler’s Ahab fountain pen.

I don’t like yellow, but this was the only color they had left that was light enough for me to see the ink inside, which is why I like demonstrators in the first place. I don’t mind the color now – it’s a change from all the transparent demonstrators I already have.

These are the parts of an Ahab – from the top, the nib and section with the breather tube for the piston-fill system; cap with steel band; piston rod; and barrel.

The filling system was new to me and at first I was unsure how to go about using it. I thought about Googling, then asking Ahab-owning friends for help. But I decided, naah, I’ll play with it.

I chose magenta De Atramentis ink that I also got at Quill and Nib. (There were so many other lovely colors but alas! I had no room for more in my small hand-carry size suitcase.)

I dipped the nib into the ink and drew up on the rod. Success! The ink flowed into the chamber and up into the breather tube as well.

I still didn’t know if this was supposed to happen, but it seemed fine so I fitted the piston rod back into the barrel for the next step.

A word on the filling system: there are excellent reviews all over the Web that I could have read first, such as Peninkcillin’s and FP Geeks’, and they are informative about all aspects of the pen.

One thing that’s great about it is that it can be converted into an eyedropper fill with an o-ring, giving a generous 6ml ink capacity.

The piston rod is quite long when fully retracted.

Even so, it fits into the barrel.

I pushed the rod back in a bit. Ink dripped out of the nib, but at the same time air was expelled, which seemed to be the right thing to happen. When I read other reviews, the advice was when filling to first push the rod in to expel air, then dip in ink and draw back to fill the chamber. Now I know.

It’s a bit of a wet writer, which is only as it should be, since the Ahab has a semi-flex nib. Flex nibs use a lot of ink and are very thirsty. They tend to railroad when not enough ink for the flex gets up into the feed.

The Ahab’s got nothing on the vintage flex nibs that I own and have reviewed on this blog, such as those by Waterman and Sheaffer, but considering that it’s a modern version in steel and not the more malleable gold is quite an achievement.

Alas, it railroaded the first time I tried it! I was disappointed and put the pen away. What did I expect after all for $19?

After a couple of weeks I took it out again, and was pleased to find that things had somehow settled in and the pen was performing much better. Look at that juicy flex action on the downstroke, and the overall width variation!

Affordable cost + flex ability + eyedropper ready = good deal!

All photos taken with an iPhone 4S.

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pilot prera

In marvelous serendipity a lovely pen from a lovely friend finds its way into my hands.

She leaves a note for me in her graceful, flowing calligraphy.

Inside the box she thoughtfully provided is nestled her ivory Pilot Prera, now rehomed with me.

The Prera is short and slim, at 4.75 inches capped, 5.3 inches with the cap posted.

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” This Prera comes with a CON-50 screw-type converter, and can take cartridges.

I fill the Prera with pink Sailor Jentle ink. The converter doesn’t hold a lot, but it’s enough for several days’ normal use.

It’s still light enough to use even with the cap posted.

Surprise! It comes with a 1.1 italic nib. Stock nibs come in medium and fine.

I’ve always loved Japanese pens for their elegant design, craftsmanship, and reliability – no skips, blots, and start-up issues. On my wish list are a pink Prera and a demonstrator Prera with pink accents. Someday…

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